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Who spends this much time on obscure radios?

My name is Terry O'Laughlin and I am a faculty emeritus from Electrical Engineering and Electronics Technology Department at Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin.

I may be reached at watkins-johnson(at)terryo(dot)org

My research is, at the moment, totally self-funded, though my college provides limited incidental support.

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In the Fall of 2007, the college granted me a one semester sabbatical to research the history of Cold War surveillance radios. That time off allowed me to travel extensively and meet former employees of CEI, WJ, DEI, Nems-Clarke and other companies. It quickly became clear that primary sources could be found and that I had years of work ahead of me.

It is hard to find enough time to properly conduct my research. I cannot possibly accommodate all the requests I get from radio hobbyists and agencies for parts, equipment or information. Please do not be offended if I do not respond to e-mails.

If you have information that might useful for this research, please feel free to contact me either at watkins-johnson(at)terryo(dot)org or through the college at tolaughlin(at)madisoncollege(dot)edu

Tax deductible donations can be made to support this research. The Madison College Foundation hosts the Watkins-Johnson Research Fund and is an IRS 501 (c) (3) non-profit charitable organization. All funds are exclusively used for research into radio development and history during the Cold War. This fund can be hard to locate on the foundation home page. Please contact me if you have difficulty.



I have held the same amateur radio call sign since 1970 and an FCC Radiotelephone License since 1973. I starting moving away from commercial ham gear in the late 70s to the higher construction standards of military equipment. By 1990, I had owned, restored and sold 27 R-390s, R-390As and R-389s, as well as a host of other green, gray and black military radios. (I was young once and had a strong back).

I purchased my first surveillance radio, a Communication Electronics, Inc. (CEI) model 501 in 1982. I immediately recognized the design elegance and construction quality eclipsed even the finest military equipment I had previously owned. I started compiling and distributing equipment lists for CEI, Watkins-Johnson (WJ), Nems-Clarke, Defense Electronics, Inc (DEI). and Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) equipment via e-mail in 1986 (in the pre-web internet days). I started my original Watkins-Johnson web site in 1994.

Where can you find more information?

The resources page of my Watkins-Johnson site lists repair services, parts sources and links to other information sites.

My list of publications contains articles published on these radios and related subjects.